If you are looking for a camping getaway that has a lake for fishing, boating, petroglyphs, hiking and more, Lyman Lake is for you! With no restrictions on boat size (as of 2018), Lyman Lake has cabins, RV hook up areas and campsites for all types of campers. There are full service bathrooms (running water) for the not so brave camper, and great views.
Lyman Lake was Opened on July 1st, 1961, and had a campground in 1969. Along the Little Colorado River in Apache County, Arizona, Lyman Lake is at approximately 6,000 feet in elevation and is used as an irrigation reservoir. The Little Colorado River is fed by two Mountains (the second and third highest in Arizona) from their snowmelt-Mt Baldy and Escudilla Mountain. The water from Lyman Lake also eventually travels into New Mexico.
Located just south of St. John Arizona, Lyman Lake is approximately five hours from Surprise. The drive will take you through some rural areas of Arizona that are very pretty, but make sure you fill up on gas! We loved how the scenery changed as we headed out of our usual area.
Lyman Lake has a small Visitor Center and shop, with supplies, gasoline, some food and drink and is opened 9am-5pm. Pets are allowed, even in the cabins, so we brought along our trusty bulldog Roxy to explore with us!
We took advantage of the camping cabins as I like to have my creature comforts! We stayed in one of the 8 cabins. The cabin we stayed in had four bunk beds and one double bed.
The outside of our cabin! We should have brought folding chairs, but that was our mistake. There was also a picnic table outside with a shade over it, plus a fire pit if you want to bring your own firewood or firestarter.
In the inside of the cabin were two rooms. The first room had two windows on either side with the air conditioner, a shelf/eating space with stools and a double bed. There was a door to the other room that had the four bunk beds.
You can see Giggles climbing the ladder to the bunk beds from the first room and the bunk beds, as well as the window in the second room. You can also see our double bed. Each bed had a mattress that was a plastic coated mattress. Sheets are not provided, and we just brought our own sleeping bags.
You can see Dimples up on the top bunk here. There isn’t a ton of head room as the roof slopes, but you can see how beautiful the cabin really is. And did I mention each room has lights, plugs and there is one air conditioner? Yea, I like my creature comforts!
There is no bathroom in the cabin, but there is shared bathroom steps away from the cabins. The bathroom is shared with the RV and campers as well. While I wouldn’t have my kiddos walk to it alone ( wildlife), it was close enough to walk there safely in the dark. But, make sure you bring bug spray!
The early morning view from our cabin. There were many different structures for people to picnic in as well as the RV hook ups. The bathroom was just a little right of this picture.
Speaking of the bathrooms, they were super clean and yes, there is running water and lights! I personally loved that-because like I said, I like my creature comforts! Although I have roughed it, as has my husband, we like to have a little luxury in our stay. But, if you like the full on camping-Lyman Lake has that for you too!
There is more to Lyman Lake than just the cabins! We tried our hand at fishing, however, we were very unsuccessful! Our kids have been dying to go fishing for the longest time, and since we come from an area that is known for great fishing-we wanted to do it at a real lake!
We bought the kids the cute little fishing gear that was themed (Frozen, Paw Patrol), but I don’t recommend it. I recommend getting something stronger as we almost broke one rod catching a rock.
While we didn’t catch anything, the kids had a lot of fun trying! We saw a few other people walking dogs, and a few people out on boats as well. Across the lake we even saw cows!
There was also a great swimming area for the kids where the water was very shallow (however, this could depend on how much water is in the lake) and the dock let them jump off-but not dive-into the water. The dirt was very red and muddy, but almost clay like, so they were easily able to build with it and had a ton of fun. I wished we had brought some sand toys to play with, but they made do without them. The kids loved playing in the water. As the Lyman Lake Website says, the water is not clear as the silt from run off from the mountains is constant, but the water is usually safe to swim in. If you have questions about the safety of swimming in the water, please contact the visitors center. There is no lifeguard on duty, and be careful of watercraft. On the Map, you can see the swimming area marked.
While there are a few different trails to hike we did the Peninsula Petroglyph trail. It was easy enough for our kiddos to do (8,6 and 5) but there was quite an incline and it was not barrier free. Make sure you bring a bottle of water. There are two other areas where there are ruins. One can be reached by car (Rattlesnake point Ruins) and the Ultimate Petroglyph Tour Site, but you need to have a boat for that according to the map.
The Petroglyphs, or an ancient Rock carving, were pretty cool to see. I highly recommend checking it out early in the morning as they aren’t the easiest thing to see and in bright light may be harder to see. Make sure little ones understand that they aren’t to touch and are to just look! My kids thought it was amazing to see. And, You can see Dimples taking charge of our hiking adventure!
The Petroglyphs almost looked like it was burnt out of the rock, instead of carved. It was hard to understand, but very interesting to see. And wonder, why this rock? Why here? What were they trying to communicate? The view of the lake was beautiful, and there was a neat cave rock that sort of make a short cut between the paths. We figured a lot of bats probably liked hanging out there!
We really enjoyed out time at Lyman Lake and created a lot of great family memories. I highly suggest taking the drive up there in the fall, bringing out some fishing gear and exploring!
Lyman Lake State Park- 11US-180 St Johns, AZ